Conversion therapy is an attempt to use therapeutic approaches to change a person’s sexual orientation. It is sometimes also called ‘reparative’ or ‘gay cure’ therapy.
We believe it is unethical to offer or conduct psychotherapy or counselling with the express aim of altering sexual orientation. We take our responsibility to protect the public seriously and have issued clear ethical guidelines to therapists about conversion therapy.
Guidance for the public
Working closely with the Department of Health and professional partners, UKCP has published public information and advice on conversion therapy.
Guidance for therapists
UKCP published its statement on reparative therapy in February 2010.
We have also issued Guidance on the Practice of Psychological Therapies that Pathologise and/or seek to Eliminate or Reduce Same Sex Attraction. This is an elaboration of UKCP’s Ethical Principles and Codes of Professional Conduct relevant to ‘reparative’ therapy.
Committment from leading professional bodies and NHS England
UKCP with support from the Department of Health brought together 14 signatory organisations, including the Royal College of GPs and the Royal College of Psychiatrists to launch a Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK. This is an agreement on actions to end the practice of conversion therapy in the UK, to bolster psychological professionals’ training and improve the emotional support available to LGB clients who seek therapeutic help.
In 2009, a study led by Dr Michael King indicated that approximately one in six therapists had, at some time, engaged in conversion therapy.
Since then, all major professional bodies representing psychological therapy in the UK have made clear that offering conversion therapy would be in breach of their professional codes of practice.
If members of the public have evidence of UKCP members offering conversion therapies, they are encouraged to make a complaint.
There has been understandable public and parliamentary concern about conversion therapy. There was a parliamentary debate on this issue in November 2013 and there was also a parliamentary motion tabled in June 2013.